Call me Russ L

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: March 2013

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 27 February, 2013

It seems like we have a pattern, then. I do one or two of these posts aroundabout this time of the year, then a couple more in autumn, and that’s it. Still, there’s plenty to be getting on with – there’s the usual Crufts and Flatpack festival and St Padraig’s and lots-of-opera that you’ll see in March in the West Mids, but this year you can add it to a big joined theatre thing, a vague two-tone theme, modern minimalist composers, and Rolf Harris.

Standard disclaimers: I can’t ensure that these events will go ahead, that they’ll be good, or that I will be going to them. This is just a list of things I found that looked like they might be interesting, so please do not contact me to ask for your event to be included. That’s not the way it works.

Thursday the 28th of February until Saturday the 2nd – Giacomo Puccini’s “Il Trittico” (students of Birmingham Conservatoire) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Three one-act operas for the price of one.

Friday the 1st – “The Furies” (Kindle Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – A feminist reading of the Oresteia (Clytemnestreia, presumably), performed through rock/metal songs. (Also at A.E. Harris in the Jewellery Quarter on the 23rd).

Saturday the 2nd – The Atlantic Players @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – A really fun southern soul band, who I enjoyed at Mostly Jazz/Funk/Soul last year. Speaking of which, the line-up for this year’s MOJFAS is starting to come out.

Saturday the 2nd – Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” (Ellen Kent Opera & Ballet International) @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – With a donkey onstage.

Saturday the 2nd – Mandy Romero’s “In Excelcis” @ The Public, West Bromwich – A personal history of glam rock, from a trans* perspective. And if I’ve got the asterisk wrong there then please assume the asterisk leads to a footnote apologising for my ignorance. And I do mean that sincerely.

Saturday the 2nd – “Whisky Birmingham” Festival @ The Bond, Digbeth, Birmingham – I don’t have the first idea what-all is what’s what when it comes to whisky, but I thought I’d mention this here as a comparative novelty (there are always ale festivals everywhere, but this seems a touch less frequent). Does the no-E spelling of “whisky” mean that it’s American and Irish stuff rather than Scottish? I can never remember which way round it’s supposed to be.

Sunday the 3rd – UFO @ The Institute (Library Room), Digbeth, Birmingham – This obliquely leads me wonder about why you never hear “Doctor, doctor!” jokes anymore.

Tuesday the 5th till Saturday the 9th – the Welsh National Opera come to town @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – A new boss equals new and exciting things from the WNO. Here we have Lulu on the 5th, The Cunning Little Vixen on the 7th, and Madame Butterfly on the 6th, 8th and 9th.

Tuesday the 5th – Sigur Rós @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Glaciers, etc.

Tuesday the 5th – The Magic Band @ The Robin 2, BilstonSans Captain Beefheart, for the usual set of reasons.

Tuesday the 5th – John Cage’s “4’33” @ The ICC/Symphony Hall Café, Birmingham

Wednesday the 6th till Saturday the 9th – “Cadfael: The Virgin In The Ice” (Middle Ground Theatre) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – The abbot, in the chapterhouse, with the poisonous herbs.

Wednesday the 6th – Steve Reich @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Firstly the man himself will be performing Clapping Music. Then, the London Sinfonietta will be giving what is on the second ever (evaaaar) performance of his new “Radio Rewrite”, in which he attempts to remake Radiohead songs in his own inimitable way. By this point in time I think we can afford to just trust him and go with it.

Wednesday the 6th – George Dillon’s “The Gospel Of Matthew” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – St Matthew acted out with what is apparently no small degree of intensity.

Wednesday the 6th – The Hot 8 Brass Band @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Funky hip-hopity New Orleans brass band. Sousaphone! I keep telling you that the sousaphone is the best of all instruments and you never listen.

Thursday the 7th till Saturday the 16th – “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (Blue Orange Arts) @ The Blue Orange Theatre, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – ROOD.

Thursday the 7th till Sunday the 10th – Crufts @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – HOUNDS.

Thursday the 7th – screening of “The Ghost Of Piramida” @ Birmingham Bike Foundry, Stirchley, Birmingham – The lovely Danish band Efterklang travelled to an island in the arctic circle north of Norway to record their last album, and a film was made about it all. You can watch a screening of it in a room above a pushbike shop, although since there’s only room for 25 people you probably won’t.

Saturday the 9th till Sunday the 24th – Theatre Fever @ various venues in the West Mids – A linking title (they didn’t call it a festival, and I call that progress) for lots of different plays that are going on, as well as a few other bits and bobs too. This includes shop windows, penguins, pubs, and lots of things mentioned elsewhere in this post because I hadn’t heard of this until just now and I’m damned if I’m going to go back and re-write them.

Saturday the 9th till Monday the 18th – St Padraig’s Day Festival @ around Digbeth, Birmingham – Too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra li. The parade itself is often said to be the third largest in the world.

Saturday the 9th – Alex Bockie’s “The Inferno Kid” @ A.E. Harris, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – The tale of a broken ex-pro wrestler, which I always find fascinating. I think there was actually an Inferno Kid, but I don’t think this is based on him.

Saturday the 9th – The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown @ The Robin 2, Bilston – I hope he still wears his flammable hat.

Saturday the 9th – The Jasmine Moon Ensemble @ Ort Café, Moseley, Birmingham – Sino-Irish trio who play traditional Chinese music on traditional Chinese instruments. I saw them at Moseley Folk last year and thought that they were lovely.

Saturday the 9th – Huey Morgan And The New Yorkers @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Stick ‘em up punk it’s (one of) the Fun Lovin’ Criminals.

Saturday the 9th – Professional Boxing (First Team Promotions) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – One hundred years of boxing at the Civic! That is amazing. I’ve always said that the balcony is great for fightsports, though – you get a good view. This one is headlined by Thomas Costello’s English title fight (a title shot at last! It’s gone slower for him than many seemed to expect), but there are a pile of other fights and apparently there will be music and cabaret and whatnot else, since it’s a special occasion.

Tuesday the 12th till Friday the 15th – “The Anatomy Of Melancholy” (Stan’s Cafe) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (studio space), Warwick University, near Coventry – A staged version of Robert Burton’s 17th century semi-satirical work of philosophy/self-help-book, which (funnily enough) I am actually reading at the moment. I have no idea at all how they’re going to do this, but it’s Stan’s Cafe so you can be absolutely certain that it’ll be enormously witty and inventive.

Wednesday the 13th – St Vitus @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Do-do-do-do-dooooom.

Thursday the 14th till Thursday the 28th – “Heather Gardner” (Birmingham Rep theatre company) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – The modernised version of “Hedda Gabler”. Youseewhattheydidthere with the name.

Friday the 15th – Olivia Newton-John @ The NIA, Birmingham – Getting physical.

Friday the 15th – Cannon, Campbell, Watchorn & O’Connor @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Formerly of The Dubliners. Now that The James Brown Rule has wrought its terrible effect on The Dubs, this’ll be your closest. It’s quite near the 17th, too.

Saturday the 16th – Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Oh lordy lord it’s the ghost boat! In all seriousness we should show appropriate appreciation for the fact that we have one of the world’s foremost Wagner men right on our doorstep, ‘cos he’ll probably be here for a while yet but he won’t be here forever.

Saturday the 16th – The Stranglers @ The Academy, Birmingham – You know how it gets when someone eats all the miniature chocolates. “Whatever happened to all the heroes?” you’ll ask.

Saturday the 16th – The Selecter @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Two-tone in the Black Country in March #1.

Wednesday the 20th – Nas @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – You a slave to a page in his rhyme book.

Thursday the 21st till Sunday the 31st – Flatpack Film Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – At the time of posting the line-up isn’t available, which seems a bit late to leave it really. Still, there’s a sneakypeak advance post here, and in any case there’s always loads of brilliant stuff. Always always always. (EDIT: Here y’go, the line-up is out now).

Thursday the 21st – Skunk Anansie @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – If you are in any sort of doubt at all about whether or not you need to go to this gig, look what happened last time they played there.

Friday the 22nd and Saturday the 23rd – “Rasputin’s Mother” (Encore Drama) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – He took some killing, but what if even then he wasn’t dead?

Friday the 22nd – “Call Mr Robeson” (Tayo Aluko & Friends) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – The life of Paul Robeson, actor/singer/civil rights campaigner.

Friday the 22nd – The Real Thing @ The Robin 2, Bilston – You to them are everything.

Saturday the 23rd – Rolf Harris @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Doing music and a painting onstage. Presumably not at the same time. I do actually (genuinely) think that ol’ Rolf is underrated as a purveyor of comic song.

Saturday the 23rd – The Beat @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Two-tone in the Black Country in March #2.

Tuesday the 26th till Thursday the 28th – “God’s Property” (Talawa Theatre) @ The MAC (theatre space), Digbeth, Birmingham – Two bothers are reunited in 1982 London, but racial tension hangs heavy in the air.

Tuesday the 26th and Wednesday the 27th – Emeli Sandé @ The Academy, Birmingham – There for two days then she’s gone, then she’s gone, then she’s gone.

Wednesday the 27th – Steve Harris’ British Lion @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – I was genuinely surprised to see that Steve Harris of Iron Maiden fame had a solo project, given that he’s always portrayed as a bossman figure who will brook no dissent and is always firmly in charge of what gets on their albums. I do quite like the fact that the catchphrase “Up The Irons” can be replaced with “Up The Harris” for this, but then again I am quite childish.

Friday the 29th – J.S. Bach’s “St Matthew’s Passion” (Ex Cathedra & The Baroque Orchestra) @ Symphony Hall, Bimingham – It’s a good old Good Friday passion.

Friday the 29th – Stiff Little Fingers / The Men They Couldn’t Hang / Ed Tudor Pole @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Now that’s what you call a line-up.

Saturday the 30th – Eels @ The Academy, Birmingham – Didja know that Hugh Everett III (of the many-worlds version of quantum wavefunction collapse) was the father of the fella from Eels? That’s a pretty hoopy family they have going on.

Sunday the 31st – Troumaca @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Bass-heavy calypso-sprinkled indie-rock sorts. It was a lovely story at MOJFAS: after they played, compere-for-the-day Giles Peterson (who will be DJ-ing at this) took to the stage in a daze and exclaimed “I’ve got to sign them!”

Reader, he signed them.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – October 2012

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Films, Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 30 September, 2012

Well, it’s the first time I’ve managed one of these in a long time. It’s a big month, too – it’s not just the Book Festival that one might traditionally have associated with October and the Supersonic Festival that one might associate with October nowadays, although they certainly are both there in all their glory. Have a look.

Standard disclaimers: I can’t ensure that these events will go ahead, that they’ll be good, or that I will be going to them. This is just a list of things I found that looked like they might be interesting, so please do not contact me to ask for your event to be included. That’s not the way it works.

Up until Friday the 5th (plus other stuff after) – “The Rootless Forest” @ on the cut outside the New Art Gallery/Wharf Bar, Walsall – There’s a wood on a barge that’s been floating down the cut between Brum and Walsall, and will by sitting at the latter end for the first five days of October. It’ll then be planted on solid proper Black Country earth at the arboretum on the 10th, and there are talks’n’such at The New Art Gallery on the 6th and The Birmingham Institute of Art And Design on the 16th.

Ongoing till Thursday the 18th – West Midlands Human Rights Film Festival @ various venues in Birmingham and Wolverhampton – Fillums about naughty people. And the victims of naughty people.

Tuesday the 2nd till Saturday the 6th – “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” (Birmingham Repertory Theatre) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – “What were you thinking about at the time?” “I wasn’t thinking anything, I was too busy breaking in” etc.

Wednesday the 3rd till Sunday the 7th – Horse of the Year Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – A HOYS is a HOYS, of coys of coys.

Wednesday the 3rd – “Not Known At This Address” (Tin Box Theatre) @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – On the subject of letters and their emotive properties, which is a thing I sort-of feel needs to be celebrated even if I never actually do write any letters these days.

Tuesday the 2nd – Dvorák’s 9th “New World” symphony (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – An afternoon performance. To be compared with the 24th.

Tuesday the 2nd – Schostakovich’s 7th “Leningrad” symphony (The St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – The evening performance. Marking 70 years (-ish) since it was premiered. My textual interpretation last year remains the definitive performance during that time.

Tuesday the 2nd – “Seconds Out” (Reform Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Boxing play #1.

Wednesday the 3rd – Carina Round @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Once upon a time my absolute absolute favourite, although I’m nowhere near as fussed nowadays. Still quite fussed, though.

Thursday the 4th till Saturday the 13th – Birmingham Book Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – With loads of interesting stuff, as ever. A couple that jump out at me immediately are Patrick Gale & Femi Oyebode talking about goodness/badness in fictional characters, and David Edgar on the similarities between theatre and poetry.

Thursday the 4th – Coppe’ / DJ Vadim / Modified Toy Orchestra @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – An interesting bill from the good people of Soundkitchen. It appears to be club times rather than gig times, though, so be aware of that.

Friday the 5th till Sunday the 14th – Birmingham Comedy Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – In the eyes of many this is probably the third festival-type-thing that October is particularly known for, but I’m completely humourless.

Friday the 5th – Rory McLeod @ The Station, Kings Heath, Birmingham – That’ll be the singer-songwriter who did the theme music for “Creature Comforts”, not the snooker player.

Friday the 5th – Azealia Banks @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – The more aggressive version of Nicky Minaj, if you like.

Friday the 5th – Rodney Bewes’ “A Boy Growing Up” @ The Town Hall, Stourbridge – That’ll be Rodney Bewes as in the Likely Lad who wasn’t James Bolan. Hide in the church if you don’t want the details of this one-man show spoiled for you.

Friday the 5th – Alex Brockie’s “The Inferno Kid” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – The tale of a poor and broken down ex-pro-wrestler, which is a subject that I find ceaselessly fascinating.

Saturday the 6th – Devon Sproule @ The Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventry – She just seemed so likeable at Moseley Folk.

Saturday the 6th – Ruts D.C. @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Ruts da capo.

Saturday the 6th – “Roll Out The Barrel” @ The Light House, Wolverhampton – A “civilised Black Country afternoon celebrating the history of the British pub”, with fillums and ales and bacon’n’grey pays.

Sunday the 7th – Napalm Death @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton- They’re supporting Soulfly, but I expect that’s neither here nor there.

Thursday the 8th – Shonen Knife @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – Managing to play the ingénue for three decades is a pretty impressive feat, I reckon.

Tuesday the 9th till Saturday the 13th – Puccini’s “Turandot” (Midland Opera) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – That’ll be the one with that “Nessun Dorma” of yours in it.

Tuesday the 9th till Saturday the 13th – “The Plough And The Stars” (Abbey Theatre) @ The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Seán O’Casey’s Easter Rising play. It caused riots in 1927 but hopefully won’t here.

Tuesday the 9th till Saturday the 13th – “Beautiful Burnout” (Frantic Assembly Theatre Group) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventry – Boxing play #2.

Tuesday the 9th – Inspectah Deck @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – The rebel, he makes more noise than heavy metal.

Wednesday the 10th – Michelle Shocked @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – It was ages before I had the “oh I see what you did there” moment regarding the “shell shocked” in her name. I’m just not all that quick on the uptake, bless me.

Thursday the 11th and Friday the 12th – “The Good Person Of Sezuan” (MAT & Sister Tree) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Brecht at the Arena #1 (with added Jamaican setting).

Thursday the 11th – Terrorvision @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Given that they often used to be called “The Slade of the 90s”, this would seem like an apt place for them to play.

Thursday the 11th – John Cale @ The Institute (Library Room), Digbeth, Birmingham – I always get him mixed up with J.J. Cale. It’s as though they did it on purpose.

Friday the 12th till Monday the 15th – Birmingham Zine Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Zoom towards some ‘zines.

Saturday the 13th – Ray Davies @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – That Kinky fella.

Monday the 15th – Michael Chapman @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Finger-pickin’ good guitar #1.

Wednesday the 17th till Saturday the 20th – “Arcadia” by Tom Stoppard (Birmingham School of Acting) @ The Blue & Orange Theatre, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Quite possibly the greatest post-war play, I think.

Wednesday the 17th till Saturday the 20th – “2.8 Hours Later” @ around Brum – A city-wide game where you run around and avoid the zombies. I can’t decide if it sounds fun or irritating, but I’m leaning towards the former.

Wednesday the 17th – Jefferson Starship @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Oi, don’t laugh. They built a city on rock and roll. You and I probably couldn’t build one out of Lego.

Wednesay the 17th – Alexei Sayle @ The Public, West Bromwich – Ullo,ullo,ullo,ullo, Ullo John Got A New Motor. He’s also on at The Wulfrun in Wolves on the 24th.

Thursday the 18th till Saturday the 27th – “Eat!” (Birmingham Rep Theatre & Black Country Touring) @ The Roundhouse, Birmingham – Drama based in submitted personal stories about food and eating. This is the venue, here – it was unfamiliar to me, but maybe you know it.

Thursday the 18th – Mellow Peaches @ The ICC/Symphony Hall foyer, Birmingham – Ace folk-blues stuff and it’s all for freeeee…

Thursday the 18th – Rick Astley @ The Academy, Birmingham – Link as dictated by tradition.

Friday the 19th till Saturday the 21st – Supersonic Festival @ The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – Ooh crikey, it’s crept up on me a bit this year. Supersonic is always amaaaazing, anyway, although I expect that anyone likely to be reading this already knows that. This year you’ve got your The Bug, you’ve got your JK Flesh, your Merzbow, your Jarboe, your Zeni Geva, your Modified Toy Orchestra, your Drunk In Hell, your Ore (collaborating with KK Null), Sensational/Torture, Mothertrucker, Lichens, PCM, Six Organs Of Admittance, Islaja, Hey Colossus, SWLLWS, a Black Sabbath-themed walking tour, remote control cars on records, sing-a-long with Kim Gordon, stuff for the young’ins, rituals regarding Brum’s little stream… you name it, you’ve got it.

Friday the 19th – The Drifters @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – You’re more than a number in their little red book.

Saturday the 20th – Down @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – I suspect someone will end up regretting having this one clash with Supersonic. Although it’s only a short distance down the road and you could pop out, I suppose.

Saturday the 20th – Soweto Kinch @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Saxomaphone, saxomaphone. Also: MC-ing.

Monday the 22nd till Wednesday the 24th – “Mother Courage And Her Children” (Blackeyed Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Brecht at the Arena #2.

Tuesday the 23rd till Saturday the 27th – “Steptoe and Son” (Kneehigh Theatre/West Yorkshire Playhouse) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventry – HAAAARRRROOOOLD etc.

Tuesday the 23rd – Sparks @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – I’m sure that the town will be big enough for the both of them.

Wednesday the 24th till Saturday the 27th – “Twelfth Night” (Warwick University Drama Society) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (studio space), near Coventry – Apparently featuring performances inspired by Robert (Anton?) Wilson and music inspired by Tom Waits.

Wednesday the 24th – Eddie Reader @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – She has been foolish too many times, now she’s determined she’s gonna get it right.

Wednesday the 24th – Rolo Tomassi @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – Do you love anyone enough to… alright, I’ll stop.

Wednesday the 24th – Dvorák’s 9th “New World” symphony (Dresden Symphony Orchestra) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – To be compared with the 2nd.

Wednesday the 24th – Rosemary Hawthorne’s “The Knicker Lady” @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – A comic exploration of the history of underwear (in aid of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice).

Thursday the 25th – Alice Cooper @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – He doesn’t have cable? What a dumbass.

Thursday the 25th – Seth Lakeman @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Oh, Kitty Jay. (Edit: He’s at Warwick Arts Centre on the 11th, too).

Friday the 26th – Lionel Richie @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – I know I’ve said it a million billion times before, but it’s true nevertheless: he looks like a crocodile.

Saturday the 27th – Don McLean @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – That good ol’ boy, drinking Whisky and Rye.

Saturday the 27th – Efterklang @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – Efterklang with an orchestra will be a magical thing, it really will. This is one of the big tips o’the month from me.

Saturday the 27th – Immortal Technique @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – I am all about the Marxism in hip hop.

Saturday the 27th – Wizz Jones and John Renbourn @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Finger-pickin’ good guitar #2 and #3.

Saturday the 27th – Nicky Minaj @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – The less aggressive version of Azealia Banks, if you like.

Tuesday the 30th till Friday the 2nd – “Schroedinger” (Reckless Theatre) @ A.E. Harris, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Inside the cat’s box.

Tuesday the 30th till Saturday the 3rd of November – Johan Strauss’ “A Night In Venice” (Tinker’s Farm Opera) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – A modern dress version, with references to Berlusconi and such.

Tuesday the 30th – Every Time I Die @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – I remember one time that I saw this lot back in the day, when the singer’s pupils were so dilated he could probably see into the future. It was hilarious.

Tuesday the 30th – Goodnight Lenin @ The Institute (Library room), Digbeth, Birmingham – They’re supporting a band called Dry The River and I don’t know anything about all that, but it’s Goodnight Lenin.

Tuesday the 30th – Sauna Youth / Cold Pumas @ The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham – SY: rambunctious garage punk. CP: wall-of-echoey-sound post-punk and my favourite band name I’ve heard in ages.

Wednesday the 31st – “Der Golem” film showing plus improvised organ from Nigel Ogden @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Horror film plus live music #1.

Wednesday the 31st – “The Phantom Of The Opera” plus the Midlands Fretted Orchestra @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Horror film plus live music #2.

Wednesday the 31st – Steve Tilston @ The Red Lion, Kings Heath, Birmingham – In a break from the usual rule, there doesn’t seem to be any of the Carthys/Watersons playing in the West Mids this month (ah, there probably are. I’ve most likely just missed ‘em). Have a Tilston instead.

March Hares and Hounds and so forth

Posted in Films, Food, Music by Russ L on 7 April, 2012

Ah, all the blogging that was intended to be done but not actually done.

Still, my March stuff:

~ “All of the band names ending with the same phoneme” is a brilliant theme for gigs and should be used more often: I was very sad to see that it no longer has the 70s flowery wallpaper, but the little room in The Hare & Hounds saw a fun little gig on the 5th – Teeth Of The Sea, Victories At Sea and Health And Efficien…sea. I liked all three, particularly last year’s Supersonic best-in-show-eers Teeth Of The Sea and their Morricone-ised psychedelic industrial (oh yes), and the new-to-me Victories At Sea who played something like that Echo And The Bunnymen-styled 80s-influenced indie-rock that was popular a few years ago, only turned up to 381 and with the knob snapped off. An aside, since we mentioned them: E&TB will be headlining the first day at Moseley Folk this year.

~ Blocks of flats: As part of The Flatpack Film Festival, I went to Another Fine Mess (not-having-gone-to-Crufts consolation #1: this) and The Icebook (absolutely gorgeous. A bit sad though Ted).

~ Feed me Seymour: Dilshad in Blackheath was alright, nothing amazing but completely acceptable. The Bartons Arms may still be my favourite pub but the food there didn’t seem as good this time around. In no way bad, of course, but not as wonderful as I’ve known it to be in the past. The Black Country Arms in Walsall is also a very good pub indeed, and does more usual pub food to a good standard for very reasonable prices. And, y’know, I like reasonable prices far more than I like unreasonable ones.

~ And The Band Played On: I went to see The Temptations, The Four Tops, Tavares and The Crystals at the NIA on the 22nd. Unsurprisingly, there were no surprises and the gig went exactly as you’d expect. In this case that is a very good thing and an emormous amount of fun. The three “The-” bands were all one-original-member versions, so Tavares won a moral victory through that. The Tempations won the “best old man dance moves” and the “band I liked the most in the first place” awards.

~ Sure, the craic was fierce: As part of The Fierce Festival I saw the Capsule gig at Vivid on the 30th (I arrived right at the end of Swllws, but it all sounded nice enough; Diamond Catalog progressed from “thumping undertow with random sounds over the top for decoration” to “using said sounds over the top to create a polyrhythmic contrast with said thumping overtow”, and it was fun; Grouper‘s “Violet Replacement” piece was a touch longer than what was actually in it seemed to justify, but nevertheless spectral and ghostly and lovely just to sit back into your chair and melt into. I may or may not have actually sat back in my chair, I don’t remember. I normally perch on the edge of chairs, ready for action) and The Dachsund UN (not-having-gone-to-Crufts consolation #2: adorable, although very difficult to actually see given the number of spectators there. Who can blame them, though? Also HOUNDS).

There were also five (count ‘em) operas in March and another one since then, but I’m going to do a separate/proper post about them. You just see if I don’t.

For the time being, I’ll leave you with the new Destroyers (they’re at Moseley Folk, too) videeyo, just because:

As I said in the comments underneath (I know, YouTube commenting) – I don’t know why the kid leaves the room at the end. Going back into the main bar in The Lamp Tavern will lead to him having an even weirder conversation with Eddie…

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – March 2012

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 28 February, 2012

Oh mercy, there’s one thing I don’t like about March but so very many good things during this March in particular. So very many. Lots of walking tours, lots of opera, lots of HOUNDS, lots of everything.

Standard disclaimers: I can’t ensure that these events will go ahead, that they’ll be good, or that I will be going to them. This is just a list of things I found that looked like they might be interesting, so please do not contact me to ask for your event to be included. That’s not the way it works.

Until Saturday the 3rd – “Ministry Of Meh” (Belgrade Senior Youth Theatre) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – About the fact that the West Midlands is apparently the “obesity capital” of Europe. I did not know that (although these things are usually based on a survey of about four people).

Thursday the 1st till Saturday the 10th – “Lady Windermere’s Fan” (Blue Orange Arts) @ The Blue Orange Theatre, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Go Wilde in the country Jewellery Quarter.

Saturday the 2nd – Mel C @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Your erstwhile Sporty Spice.

Friday the 2nd – “Time Gentlemen Please!” dance event @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Hip-hop and folk dancing all together: “Clog, Sword and Morris meet B-boying, Popping and Krump”. It may or may not be wrong of me to immediately want to say “En garde, I’ll let you try my Wu-Tang style” (and then make a load of slashing noises) when I think of sword dancing next to hip-hop.

Saturday the 3rd – Wagner’s “Tristan Und Isolde” (CBSO/CBSO Chorus) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – This will be the first opera that I’ll ever have seen live twice, fact fans.

Saturday the 3rd – Great Gran’s Great Games” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – Nan’s swimming, for ages four and up.

Saturday the 3rd – Joe Cutler’s “Ping” (The Coull Quartet) @ The Warwick Arts Centre, near Coventry – Music for quartet and four table tennis players. No, really.

Monday the 5th – Teeth Of The Sea @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham -
The psychedelic industrialistas who were, according to me and various others, the best band of Supersonic last year.

Tuesday the 6th till Saturday the 10th – Welsh National Opera mini season @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – Continuing what has turned out to be a very operatic month indeed (see also the 3rd and 21st), here you have La Traviata on the 6th and 9th, Beatrice And Benedict on the 7th, and The Marriage Of Figaro on the 8th and 10th.

Tuesday the 6th till Saturday the 10th – “The Diary Of Anne Frank” (Touring Consortium Theatre Company) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – I can’t pretend that the idea of a big-stage version of Anne Frank in a big-stage theatre that normally has musicals and glossy “shows” strikes me as an enormously good idea, but you never know. There is potential for it to be interesting.

Wednesday the 7th till Saturday the 10th – “The Glass Menagerie” (Dudley Little Theatre) @ Netherton Arts Centre, Netherton – Which of the Williams’ is the best at Tennis? Why, Tennessee Williams, of course (arf).

Wednesday the 7th – Chris Wood @ The Red Lion, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Awake, arise, you drousy sleepers.

Thursday the 8th till Sunday the 11th – Crufts @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – HOUNDS.

Thursday the 9th and Friday the 10th – “Mummy Mafia” (First Floor Theatre) @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – In which the posh mothers don’t like the ordinary ones. It’s mommy mafia round here, we’ll have you know.

Thursday the 8th – Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Blimey, that is a soul-funkin’ lot of days and nights.

Friday the 9th till Saturday the 17th – St Padraig’s Day Festival @ various places in Digbeth, Birmingham – With the parade itself on (helpfully) the 17th. (EDIT: And by ’17th’ I mean ’11th’, obviously).

Friday the 9th – Fairport Convention @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – A Fairport gig, a Fairport gig, the first one of the year (Disclaimer: it’s probably not really their first gig of the year).

Friday the 9th – The Presidents Of The United States Of America @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Your first peach-related band of the month.

Saturday the 10th – The Stranglers @ The Academy, Birmingham – Your second peach-related band of the month.

Saturday the 10th – “Bite Size” (various theatre companies) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (studio), near Coventry – Lots of short plays, throughout the days. Well, it’s only one day, but that didn’t rhyme.

Sunday the 11th – Cannibal Corpse @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Those sensitive purveyors of songs about hammer-smashed faces and suchlike.

Monday the 12th – Mark Lanegan @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – You do have to wonder what he actually did to those poor trees.

Tuesday the 13th till Saturday the 17th – “Waiting For Godot” (A Talawa Theatre Company/West Yokshire Playhouse) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – Nothing, as ever, to be done.

Tuesday the 13th – Joan Baez @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – The night they drove ol’ Brummie down.

Tuesday the 13th – “The Ethics Of Progress” (Unlimited Theatre) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (studio), near Coventry – Quantum for the perplexed. Although that was by somebody else.

Wednesday the 14th till Sunday the 18th – the Flatpack Film Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – The vaunted, feted, celebrated annual festival of films and film-related doings, courtesy of those good folks at 7 Inch Cinema. The line-up abounds with huge amounts of stuff, not least Laurel & Hardy in a church, films on a boat, biking, cinematic remixes, the best film ever made, digital projectors, psychedelic music, Yam-yam-ery, magnets and magic lanterns, and oh so much more.

Wednesday the 14th – The Three Degrees @ The Jam House, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – (Insert stock grumble about The Jam House here).

Thursday the 15th till Saturday the 1st of April – Still Walking Festival @ various routes around Birmingham – A festival of walks (in the sense of “guided tours around places”, not in the sense of “keep fit”. Although it no doubt will help with that if you go on enough of them).

Thursday the 15th till Saturday the 17th – “The Big Bang” science & engineering fair @ The NEC, Marston Green, BirminghamScience~! For free. Free science.

Thursday the 15th – Chris Addison @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Although I don’t know what he’s doing here, given that they were meant to be filming a new series of “The Thick Of It” aroundabout now (and, much as I hate to say it, that’s altogether more important).

Friday the 16th – “Undefeated” boxing bill (Coldwell Boxing) @ The New Bingley Hall, Hockley, Birmingham – Headlined by a local derby between Jamie Ball and Nasser Al Harbi for the English light-middleweight title, which sounds suspiciously like a proper fight.

Friday the 16th – The Spaghetti Western Orchestra @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Doing Morricone and such. (Edit: just realised that this is part of the Flatpack Festival, as above).

Saturday the 17th – The Dubliners @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Every year they play at Brum town hall for St Padraig’s day, every year I think “surely that’ll be the best gig ever”, and every year I fail to get around to getting a ticket before it sells out.

Tuesday the 20th till Friday the 23rd – “Ann Boleyn” (ETT/Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Company) @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – *Counts on fingers* … beheaded?

Tuesday the 20th and Wednesday the 21st – Harold Pinter double bill (European Arts Company) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – With The Dumb Waiter and The Lover.

Wednesday the 21st till Saturday the 31st – Jonathon Dove’s “Life Is A Dream” (Birmingham Opera Company) @ The Argyle Works, Bordesley Green (or is this still Digbeth?), Birmingham – Right, seriously now: even though there’s Flatpack and Crufts and everything else this month, this is the big one for March (and quite possibly all of 2012). And that’s no insult to any of the other lovely things going on. This is a new opera based in Calderon that has been specifically written (by Jonathon Dove, libretto by Alasdair Middleton) for the Birmingham Opera Company, whose performances place you in the midst of an immersive world rather than have you sit there looking at a stage. Go go go go go to this, you will not regret it.

Thursday the 22nd – The Four Tops / The Temptations / Tavares / The Crystals @ The NIA, Birmingham – It’s a soul bonanza.

Friday the 23rd till Friday the 30th – “Irminsul: You Are Lost” @ Perrott’s Folly, Edgbaston, Birmingham – A collaborative art project (full list of artistes at that link), and also a good excuse to go up Perrott’s Folly, which you don’t get absolutely every day (although there have been a few things there before).

Friday the 23rd – Syleena Johnson @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Tonight, she’s gonna let go. (EDIT: Note well, if it’s important to you for transport and such – it’s a club-night type of gig and Syleena will be on later in the night).

Friday the 23rd – Boxing (Frank Warren Promotions/First Team Promotions) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Headlined by Enzo Maccarinelli vs Shane McPhilbin for the British cruiserweight belt.

Friday the 23rd – Dave Swarbrick @ The Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton – The usual “any given month must feature at least one of the Watersons/Carthys” rule seems to be having a rare break, so have someone affiliated with them instead (see also the 7th).

Saturday the 24th – Discharge @ The Ballroom, Birmingham – Why?

Saturday the 24th – Mixed Martial Arts (BAMMA) @ The NIA, Birmingham – No longer featuring Nate Marquardt. Let’s hope someone else does the Gouveia finishing sequence instead.

Monday the 26th till Saturday the 31st – “Spamalot” (theatre company?) @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – It is a silly place.

Wednesday the 28th – “I, Bertolt Brecht” (Fuschia Films & Media) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – A documentary play about the fella, based on experiences with his own theatre company.

Thursday the 29th till the 8th of April – Fierce Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – The annual art/performance art festival, and another one with countless things of interest: here we have one-to-one book readings (intense), guided tours of Berlin in Birmingham, HOUNDS, Viking funerals of your personal messages, and going off into the unknown under a blindfold.

Thursday the 29th – The Osmonds @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Apparently their last ever UK tour. Cra-zy Hor-ses WAAAAAAA~! WAAAAAAA~!

Thursday the 29th – “Coffin Up” (Village Idiots Mask Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – What happens when a funeral director can’t get enough business by ordinary means.

Friday the 30th – Grouper @ Vivid, Digbeth, Birmingham – That would be the American ambient lady Grouper, not the local covers band who have (for some reason) decided to use the same name.

Friday the 30th – The Selecter @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Just a simple show, on their radio. Although this is a gig, at The Robin.

Friday the 30th – The Destroyers @ The Prince Of Wales, Moseley, Birmingham – The new album is out!

Saturday the 31st till Saturday the 7th of April – “The Pillowman” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Martin McDonagh’s tale of authoritarian interrogation. “You wrote that so it was you what done it.”

Saturday the 31st – Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” (Heart Of England Singers) @ Shirley Methodist Church, Shirley, Birmingham – O Fortuna, Velut Luna, and on you go.

Writing about Supersonic 2011 – what we might politely call “the long view”

Posted in Music by Russ L on 10 February, 2012

Yup, it was three-and-a-half months ago (21/10/11 – 23/10/11). Last year, in fact. This post was too close to being finished to discard, though, and too far away from being finished to tempt me to actually finish it. Ah well. Let’s get it over with now, shall we?

So then, although it is fair to say that Supersonic didn’t strike me as quite as enticing this time around and that Mizosely Folk was the one that triggered most of my 2011 being-excited-about-a-festival pheromones, it’s still a hell of a thing for which we should all be thankful.

I didn’t sleep too tough the previous night, though, and that inevitably has its effect. I got there on the Friday to find that the festival has expanded sideways: out of The Custard Factory (I always wondered what would happen when Supersonic outgrew it), over the Mighty River Rea (see it and marvel at God’s majesty expressed in nature), and onto Floodgate street (and something called ‘Boxxed’ – another warehousey stage). I initially found it a bit difficult to orient myself (what with my tiredness, my stupidity and someone else’s clever decision to draw the map in the programme with South at the top. The second-named was probably the biggest factor, of course), but one soon gets the gist. It was a shame to see the drained-pond stage gone, since that was one of the things that I most strongly associated with the whole affair, but the new layout had it’s advantages – a Purity bar at every stage (ding, dong, the Factory Club is dead) and a sensible barrier placement/use of two-out-of-three doors in Space 2 to minimise cold drafts (a problem envisaged beforehand).

Speaking of climate, it was unseasonably warm for the end of October all weekend. That’s two years running that the most obvious outcome has failed to happen, weather-wise. Rejoice ye not, though, if it carries on taking place in Autumn then eventually the other precipitatory boot will drop and we’ll all get pneumonia.

It was Space 2 all evening for me, anyway. A.P.A.T.T. were on first, and they had a go at everything – klezmer, doom (cor blimey, the big loud doom finale didn’t half give Space 2’s powerful PA system an early blow-out), Elton-John-ish 70s pop, you name it. All whilst wearing all-white costumes. The sad problem is that once you’ve first thought ‘wacky’ it’s very hard to get ‘wacky’ out of your head, and there is little more poisonous. I did like some of the music though.

The tiredness was really upon me by this point, but Part Chimp were on next. It’s probably not how they’re usually described, but I actually found them very relaxing – riffology that I could simply melt into, in my nearly-asleep-on-the-feet state. This was all very nice.

I left then. I would’ve loved to see Mike Watt, but I really was too tired. Leaving at this point had the bonus of me not needing to get a taxi all weekend, though, which cut the cost of the thing enormously.

I slept. I returned on Saturday.

Things began with mostly-electronics duo Berg Sans Nipple, at the Boxxxed stage. Apparently electronics and water can mix nicely, given that they started off sounding like the bottom of a lovely placid lake (albeit one with depth charges of bass killing unsuspecting fishies every now and again). They surfaced from the depths with live drums and a more rhythmic/grooving feel, actually playing (live, I mean, as opposed to replaying a sample of) the Amen Break at one point. I love it when a band does that. It’s like pop repeating on itself after already auto-cannibalising. Enjoyable stuff, anyway.

I crossed The Bridge Over The River Rea (tremble as its raw power threatens to tear apart the culvert so it relentlessly hurtles down) and headed to The Old Library for banjista Nathan Bell. A one-man-band (bar one song), with foot-operated percussion and (at times) little bells dangling from the neck of his banjo. His was an excellent mix of the bluegrassy trad on some songs and the loopy wig-out on others, with a big Morricone-on-crack monstah finale. I must hear more of this Nate Bell character.

Back to Boxxxxed I toddled, in time for what turned out to be the best set of the entire festival. Teeth Of The Sea played what I suppose I could only describe as ‘huge-sounding psychedelic industrial’, with nice little oddments like tribal drumming and trumpet (I was reminded of Morricone again, funnily enough. Maybe if Morricone had ever scored a sci-fi film) overlaid. They had a really dynamic sound, even though most of the set was all at high volume – there was a real feeling of movement within the music. Capable of hitting as hard as anyone else when doing a hard-hitting bit but also flinging you into space when needs be, Teeth Of The Sea won Supersonic 2011.

I headed to Space 2 and watched a little bit of Bardo Pond, but they just seemed to be pulling some entirely stock’n’standard shoegaze moves and my mind found itself drifting towards the thought of obtaining food.

I popped into The Custard Factory’s new Bay Leaf restaurant, and found it to have a slightly more upmarket/young-funky-fresh approach than Digbeth’s longstanding stalwart Manzils. It’s good to have both kinds around, I think. The Beef Aloo Bhuna that I had was enjoyable. Tagore quotes on the wall are nice, charging for poppadoms with a meal is not nice.

Next up was a great bit of crowd participationerationfrom Lucky Dragons, set up in front of the stage in Boxxxxxed. They began with a bit of ethereal ambient bloopery before starting to manipulate a brace of plastic sheets underneath some sort of light-sensitive-sensor which triggered responses in the sounds. They then encouraged people in the audience to have a go themselves, and that was how the rest of the set passed. It was lovely – unsurprisingly, the first few folk to have a stab started cautiously, but before too long people were trying to work out different ways of moving/bending/folding the sheets, putting objects on top on top of them etc. I didn’t participate myself but was it was lovely to watch the happy looks on people’s faces. An altogether joyful thing to see.

Pharaoh Overlord were next, doing The Stooges (even down to singer sounding bit like Iggy) covering Neu!. This, as such a description would suggest, was thoroughly Rocking. There’s not a lot more to describe about them beyond that, but that much Rocking equals that much Fun.

I ended up leaving them before they’d finished to go and see Electric Wizard (Space 2), and upon entering I was pleased to see a balloon being bounced around the crowd like Slava’s Snowshow. I’ve had a strange history with The Wizard – I saw ‘em a couple of times aroundabout a decade ago, but since then I’ve lost touch with them and their doings in spite of how much I adore their “Dopethrone” album (and in spite of how much I was into their offshoot band Ramesses for a while there. Although, thinking about it, I’ve drifted away from Ramesses too nowayears). They were OK enough here, but not quite hitting it – neither the sonic weight of their heavy side or the cheeky grin of their horror-film-sample-using side really struck through. They have plenty of riffs that it’s near-impossible not to nod to, but they didn’t quite put it all together like they did when I were a lad and this were all just fields.

That was it for the Saturday, then. Sunday saw me Back Once Again Like A Renegade Master, and first-of-all ensconcing myself in a seat in the Theatre Space. I am fond of both seats and the Theatre Space, because with these things you get to sit down. More importantly than that, though, I was very eager to see the tuba-doom (“doompah”, if you will) duo Ore. This was amazing – doom metal played on tubas, an inspired choice given that the tuba (as an instrument) provides not only the deep’n’low notes but also the appearance-of-a-massive-physical-struggle that you need to make this sort of thing seem convincing. It was only afterwards that I sussed out whyfore the name, too: ore, the essence of metal, in an unfamiliar form but left pure and stripped of artifice. “Ahar-har-har, that’s actually genuinely clever” I thought. Magnificent, anyway. I would like to see the two of them in collaboration with a didgeridoo player (because dronez) and a sousaphonist (because the sousaphone is the greatest instrument yet created).

Pekko Kappi, over at Space 2, didn’t quite connect with me and I do think that’s a shame. I approved of his playing the jouhikko (a traditional Finnish lyre), I approve of the way he played it (gleefully bowing away in the manner of an eight year old with a junior hacksaw), and I approved of his lyrics (settings of Finnish folk tales that sounded like narrations of Hell Brueghel paintings), but something just didn’t seem to work. I expect I’ll absolutely adore him the next time I encounter him.

Upon wandering past I became aware that Alexander Tucker was playing amongst the Connie Prantera exhibit in Zelig, unadvertised bar a few posters that were more-or-less immediately outside it. I went in immediately upon noticing them, and turned out to be in time for last 2 minutes. I heard some quiet vocals over drones, just enough to wonder and wish that I’d seen how he got up to that point.

Following that, it seemed like an as good a moment as any to exit and show my face in The White Swan and The Anchor. Just to be sociable, likesay.

I returned to see Selfless and their homage to old crusty grind. It’s exactly the same as what they used to play in the olden days when the world was black and white (I’m talking about photocopied record covers, not films), made great fun through ferocity and general funtime exuberance. As any local will tell you, Dunc has the greatest stage banter (“Cor see many books in ‘ere” he wisely noted of The Old Library).

Back to Boxxxxxxed, then, for Drum Eyes. Imagine everything in the world all going on at once (mostly violin, heavy bass and bleepy computer noises, but everything nevertheless), albeit in a strangely tuneful way. There you have your Drum Eyes. This was (nay, is) an extremely good thing, if difficult to describe.

I returned (slightly dazed) to Space 2 and caught the end of Barn Owl, who was doing a shrieky guitar drone. It was another one of those where I couldn’t get much from it and probably needed to have seen what led up to that point.

I followed this with a chicken curry from the Japanese food stall. It was quite nice (although £5 is obviously dearer than anything that comes in a tray really should be, irrespective of quality). This fortified me sufficiently to tramp back over to Boxxxxxxxed, for Iconaclass, which is your man from Dälek’s more traditionally styled hip-hop act. I initially enjoyed a bit of heavy-bass boom-bap, but left when we hit a turntablism section that looked like it wouldn’t ever end (come on now, it’s no morally superior to a guitar solo). Tony Conrad was on in Space 2, and I know he’s very influential and all the rest of it but I nevertheless found myself faced with a distorted violin solo that looked like it wouldn’t ever end and so began to wonder if we’d hit that point in the weekend. Suspicions were confirmed when I moved on to the Old Library and found Cut Hands doing sampled drum solo that looked like it wouldn’t ever end.

I returned to watch a bit more Conrad (the distorted violin solo had not, in fact, ended) before just generally faffing around for a bit. Somehow I always manage to spend some time just generally faffing around at events like this (and, indeed, when it comes to life in general). I eventually returned to Boxxxxxxxxed for Silver Apples, electronic music legend and such. The last time I saw him saw an interesting atmospheric dissonance in the audience – there seemed to be an equal mix of people genuflecting in reverence/awe and people openly laughing at him. This time around your man was suffering from equipment malfunctions a-plenty. I must admit I chuckled to myself when the CD that he was playing for his beats skipped. I got enjoyment from it all in comical way, but if you go in for any solemn temple of art nonsense then this would probably have been horrific. “I Don’t Know” was at least genuinely eerie.

I crossed the Rea again (and by this point I was having to suppress the urge to stop and sing “Old Man River” from the bridge) and headed to Space 2 for Envy. They played post-rock biiiiig (“biiiiig” is a noun, you know) with all those usual sorts of dynamics, but added the chiming guitar of that style of melodic rock stuff that they sometimes describe as post-hardcore (for some reason). Does that make them post-post? Alright-ish, anyway.

A big ending for my weekend was necessary, and so I finished things off with Drunk In Hell in The Old Library. Noise-rock, but times a million billion. They just sort of go “BRRROOOOOAAARGGGGHHHH” with massive riffs and menacing intent, and it’s ace. It’s as though the movement of continents started accelerating. I’ve often thought (by which I mean I’ve just thought for the first time) that there’s only one band at a time in a country who can harness such a degree of raw elemental oomph – Mistress used to be the British representatives, but now it’s Drunk In Hell.

After that, that was me lot. I had fun.

(Checky checky checky The Collective Memory for a whole metric bagful more posts and articles about Supersonic 2011).

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – February 2012

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 29 January, 2012

Let’s have a Lots, for the first time in a little while.

Standard disclaimers: I can’t ensure that these events will go ahead, that they’ll be good, or that I will be going to them. This is just a list of things I found that looked like they might be interesting, so please do not contact me to ask for your event to be included. That’s not the way it works.

Tuesday the 31st of January and Wednesday the 1st – “The Trial” (Blackeyed Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – K-k-k-kick up a Kafka. This is the Steven Berkoff adaptation (see also the 8th/9th, if that’s pricked up your ears).

Thursday the 2nd till Saturday the 4th – Nick Makoha’s “My Father And Other Superheroes” @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Lessons for the kiddies about the role of fathers and/or the absence thereof.

Thursday the 2nd – “Meet The BBFC” @ The Light House, Wolverhampton – A talk from the British Board of Film Classification. Ask them about ‘mild peril’.

Friday the 3rd till Sunday the 5th – “Imaginary Friends” (Somesuch Theatre) @ The MAC (Hexagon room), Edgbaston, Birmingham – In which your man dials a wrong number but your woman at the other end decides to actually talk to him, it seems.

Friday the 3rd – Michael Chapman @ The Station, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Hopefully Janice Long won’t be around to get his name wrong, this time.

Friday the 3rd – The Misfits @ The Ballroom, Birmingham – The current-day version, so they’re without the pompous shortarse. Or without that one in particular, anyway. There may be other pompous shotarses amongst their number.

Friday The 3rd – “Scott Of The Antarctic Centenary Concert” (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – “I’m going out for a walk, I may be some time”. The CBSO will be doing Vaughan Williams and such in front of projections of the fillum. I once saw Einstellung playing in front of the same thing, but this won’t sound like that did.

Friday the 3rd – Sally @ Scruffy Murphy’s, Birmingham – Doooooooooooooooooooooom (etc).

Saturday the 4th – Suggs’ “My Life Story In Words And Music” @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – I expect it’ll be all such as “So then, it being Tuesday, I bought a hat…”

Saturday the 4th – “Watch The Birdy” (Birmingham Rep Theatre) @ The Library Theatre, Birmingham – About an egg that will not hatch. Wasn’t that “Orson’s Farm”?

Saturday the 4th – Laura Viers @ The MAC (Café), Edgbaston, Birmingham and The Institute (Library room), Digbeth, Birmingham – So she’s playing at The MAC in the afternoon, which will be a free gig for family-type groupings (what with her most recent album being aimed at the kiddies and whatnot), and then in the evening there’ll be a more usual type of thing at The Institute.

Sunday the 5th – Martin Simpson @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – That one who’s got that Dad.

Sunday the 5th – “The Songs And Music Of Bagpuss” with Sandra Kerr @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Although Bagpuss himself will not be there, I am sad to relay. *Stretches* *Yawns*

Wednesday the 7th till Saturday the 11th – “Yes Prime Minister” (I don’t know what the theatre company is called, but it’s the west end production) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – I got the DVD box of the complete “Yes Minister”/”Yes Prime Minister” for Christmas, you know.

Wednesday the 8th & Thursday the 9th – Steven Berkoff’s “Shakespeare’s Villains” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – His one-man show about… well, the title is scarcely cryptic.

Thursday the 9th – “Thirsty” (The Paper Birds) @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, BirminghamDrink~!

Saturday the 11th till Saturday the 18th – “Gigglefest” children’s comedy festival @ The Central Library, Birmingham – Comedy aimed at children, that is. Not child comedians drafted in from some sort of sweatshop in Indonesia.

Saturday the 11th – Prizefighter light-welterweight boxing tournament (Matchroom Sports) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Ah, damnit – I love a one-night tournament and this looks like the best instalment of “Prizefighter” yet, but it sold out before I got around to getting a ticket. Oh well. I’m cheering for Mutley but my money would be on Watson.

Sunday the 12th – “John Peel’s Shed” (Show & Tell) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (studio theatre), near Coventry – The tale of a boy who won a box of records from the eponymic DJ-owned outhouse.

Wednesday the 15th – “The Planet Suite (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – It’s interesting to note that Pluto has both come and gone (planet-wise) since this. Accuracy has been preserved, in the long run.

Thursday the 16th – Richard Herring @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – I’d like to see more comedians named after fish.

Thursday the 16th – GZA @ The Ballroom, Birmingham – I dunno, no Wu-Tang members come over for years and then suddenly you can’t move for the little bleeders…

Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th – “Deathtripping” with Lydia Lunch @ Vivid, Digbeth, Birmingham – A journey “into the radical manifesto of the Cinema of Transgression, an 80s underground film movement which spawned from New York’s No Wave scene and is characterised by an extreme and satirical take on themes of pleasure, horror, sex and disgust”, if you will. Includes a spoken-word performance from no less than Lydia Lunch on the Saturday night.

Monday the 20th – Kylesa @ The Institute (Library room), Digbeth, Birmingham – Ace metal-headbanging-mad stuff when I saw them years ago. I don’t know about now, especially given that (from glancing around the web) it seems like they’re getting quite popular nowadays.

Wednesday the 22nd till Saturday the 25th – “Hobson’s Choice” (Birmingham Royal Ballet) @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – There seems to have been about 381 productions of “Hobson’s Choice” that have played locally over the last couple of years, at the very least. This one here, though, is a ballet.

Wednesday the 22nd – “Stalin’s Favourite” (Theatre Unlimited) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – The first part of a dictatorship-double-bill at The Old Rep. This one concerns what it was like for Konstantin Simonov to be Stalin’s favourite author.

Thursday the 23rd – “Defying Hitler” (Theatre Unlimited) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – The second part of a dictatorship-double-bill at The Old Rep. This one is about your ordinary man trying to live in the Third Reich.

Thursday the 23rd till Saturday the 3rd of March – “Gravity” (Birmingham Rep Theatre) @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Themes of provocation and science mix. At least two out of every three new plays have to have scientific themes, as any fool knows (not that this is a bad thing).

Thursday the 23rd – Labrinth (sic) @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – He of “Earthquake”, the undisputed winner of the song-most-frequently-played-through-phones-on-buses award of the last year or so.

Saturday the 25th till Saturday the 3rd of March – “The Crucible (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – It does show how times have changed – I go around accusing people of witchcraft all the time and I’m generally just ignored.

Saturday the 25th – Napalm Death @ The Institute (Library Room), Digbeth, Birmingham – I’ll happily make the most of any excuse to link to this.

Sunday the 26th – Subhumans @ The Adam & Eve, Digbeth, Birmingham – I’m telling you, it’s gonna get worse.

Sunday the 26th – William Wegman’s “Woof! Woof!” @ Vivid, Digbeth, Birmingham – Video art about HOUNDS.

Monday the 27th till the 3rd of March – “Oleanna” (theatre company?) @ Highbury Little Theatre, Wylde Green, Birmingham – Do you see, do you see.

Monday the 27th – Iron Butterfly @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Dum-dum-dumm, dum-dum dum-dumm dumm dumm dumm…

Tuesday the 28th – Dave Reeves’ “Black Country Dialects” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Yam-yam myths, legends and speech. Yow dow spake as proper like we.

Tuesday the 28th – Mick Foley @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – Doing a stand-up comedy/spoken word class of thing, but I’m sure he’d throw himself off a high object if you asked him nicely.

Wednesday the 29th – Beth Jeans Houghton / Goodnight Lenin @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Glam-pop-folk with support from Everybody’s Favourite Local Band (Apart From The Destroyers).

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – November 2011

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 30 October, 2011

Cats, hares, tortoises, seabirds and bears of possibly a couple of different types – it’s animal month.

Standard disclaimers: I can’t ensure that these events will go ahead, that they’ll be good, or that I will be going to them. This is just a list of things I found that looked like they might be interesting, so please do not contact me to ask for your event to be included. That’s not the way it works.

Ongoing through the month – “Shout” festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Brum’s festival of Queer/LGBT culture. Includes, amongst many other things, ”A Tale Of Two Symphonies” with the Birmingham Gay Symphony Orchestra (an entity of which I was not aware until just now), and tales of Stevenage.

Saturday the 29th of October until Saturday the 12th of November – “Macbeth” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – I love Macbeth. It’s just so gangsta.

Tuesday the 1st and Wednesday the 2nd – “Stig Of The Dump” (Mind The Gap Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – I loved the book as a child.

Tuesday the 1st – Melvins @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – One of those bands who I like, but don’t like as much as everyone else who likes them seems to like them, so everyone else who likes them doesn’t listen to me properly and just decides that I don’t like them. But I do like them. Just not as much as etc. etc. etc.

Tuesday the 1st – Natty @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – Children get your culture, and don’t stand there and gesture or the battle will be hotter.

Tuesday the 1st – Bill Bailey @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – Hawk The Slayer’s rubbish (do I make these references a touch too oblique at times?)

Wednesday the 2nd – Motorhead / Anti-Nowhere League / UK Subs @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Motorhead are clever – although they may have been playing more-or-less the same set for 381 years, they always make sure their annual autumn tour is a package-affair with other bands you might want to see. This time it’s all a bit punky.

Wednesday the 2nd – “Big Daddy vs Giant Haystacks” (The Foundry Group Theatre) @ The Forrest Arts Centre, Walsall – A comedy about Big Daddy vs Giant Haystacks, which is one of ideas that I suspect we all wish we’d had first.

Thursday the 3rd – The Bad Shepherds @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – On their “First Farewell Tour”, which is at least honest.

Friday the 4th till Sunday the 6th – Cake International – The Sugarcraft & Cake Decoration Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – I saw the most gorgeous cake that was shaped and decorated like a bunch of roses, recently. I was enormously impressed, it was beautiful.

Friday the 4th – Anna Calvi @ The Institute (Library Room), Digbeth, Birmingham – She’s smaller than you’d imagine, in real life.

Friday the 4th – Toumani Diabate @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Playing his Kora. They should get him on with a choir, then you could have choral kora.

Saturday the 5th – UFC 138 (MMA) @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – Heh, a UFC card in Brum and I’m not going. I should be ashamed to call myself an MMA fan or such.

Saturday the 5th – Acid Mothers Temple @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – The over/under on how long they play for is set at 3.5 hours. Put your predictions in now, please.

Saturday the 5th – “The Hare And The Tortoise” (Tutti Frutti Productions & York Theatre Royal) @ The Library Theatre, Birmingham – Postscript scene here.

Saturday the 5th – An evening of Janacek and Dvorak (CBSO & City Of Birmingham Choir) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Just make sure you get a good seat and don’t have to sit uncomfortably to see, or you might end up with Czech neck. See also the Welsh National Opera entry below if you fancy a bit more Janacek.

Sunday the 6th – Glen Campbell @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – His last ever ever tour ever before retirement.

Sunday the 6th – The Drifters @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Any resemblance to any original band members living or dead is purely coincidental.

Sunday the 6th – Focus @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Dutch yodelling (also: prog-rock).

Monday the 7th – Ghostface Killah @ The Institute (The Library), Digbeth, Birmingham – It’s been a very Wu-Tang-y year in Brum, 2011 has. Assuming he turns up.

Wednesday the 9th till Sunday the 13th – Slava’s Snowshow @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – Not just for kiddies, this really is one of the most visually astonishing things that you’ll ever see.

Wednesday the 9th – Guillemots @ The Institute (The Library), Digbeth, Birmingham – Call ‘em a doctor.

Thursday the 10th – The Damned @ The Academy, Birmingham – On their 35th anniversary tour, which is pretty much guaranteed to make some folks feel extremely old.

Thursday the 10th – Paul Murphy @ The ICC (Symphony Hall foyer), Birmingham – Your man from The Destroyers, playing as part of the ongoing Folk For Free series.

Thursday the 10th and again on Saturday the 12th – Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Derrr, derrr, du-duh-duh, derrr, derrr, de-deh-deh, dun dun dun dun der dun dun, dun dun dun dun der dun dun. That’s my transcription of the invasion theme. I’m telling you, sheet music will be a thing of the past once my notation system catches on.

Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th – “The Importance Of Being Earnest” (New Century Theatre Company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Possibly unfortunate timing, given the recent big Birmingham Rep version of this, but I suppose it could be fun to compare and contrast. Featuring (it appears) suitcases (not handbags) used prominently in the staging.

Friday the 11th – “Fighting The Cuts” (Banner Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Apparently a cabaret performance themed around resistance to the current government. That doesn’t sound like the type of thing you see every day.

Friday the 11th – “Sacred and Profane Love in 13th Century France” @ St George’s Church, Edgbaston, Birmingham – As performed by Sinfonye. What a title, though. What a dream of a title.

Saturday the 12th till Sunday the 20th – Grand Slam Of Darts 2011 @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – So I hear they’re starting to catch up with Phil Taylor nowadays, finally. I’ve always recommended not having heroes.

Saturday the 12th – Opeth @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – There’s always one “band I used to be into but have drifted away from over the years, for no obvious reason” every month, and your Swedish prog-folk-blues-metallers here are November’s representatives.

Saturday the 12th – Bellowhead @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Often said to be one of the best live bands going. I haven’t seen ‘em so I wouldn’t know, but people do say this.

Saturday the 12th – “Breaking Down The Wall” @ New Art Gallery, Walsall – Live poetry, percussion and graffiti. Connected with the Salaam Islamic Arts Festival.

Saturday the 12th – “Play School” (Mid*Point Theatre) @ A.E. Harris, The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Presented as just as games evening, although I’m not so sure it wont turn out to be something a bit more, well, theatrical. Apparently they will provide board games and organise “low tech sports”. This leaves me wondering what a hi-tech sport might be. Robot Wars?

Sunday the 13th – Thomas Dolby @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Science~!

Monday the 14th till Saturday the 19th – “Keeler” (can’t seem to find the theatre company) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – The play about the Profumo Affair that is apparently very well regarded by Christine Keeler herself.

Tuesday the 15th till Saturday the 26th – “Bagpuss” (Birmingham Stage Company) @ The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Bagpuss! He’s so lovely.

Tuesday the 15th till Saturday the 19th – Welsh National Opera @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – With Don Giovanni on the 15th and 18th, Katya Kabanov on the 16th, and The Barber of Seville on the 17th and 19th.

Tuesday the 15th till Saturday the 19th – “Oh What A Lovely War” (Blackeyed Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Hasn’t this been on at The Arena for about fifteen runs in the last few years, or am I just imagining it? I’m not saying that this is a bad thing.

Tuesday the 15th – Wire @ The Institute (The Temple), Digbeth, Birmingham – I’d got the impression from somewhere that this was supposed to be a “doing Pink Flag all the way through” gig, in the way that all old bands do with their great albums nowadays, but it doesn’t look like it actually is. I have no idea where I got that idea from.

Wednesday the 16th – (MF) Doom @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – His name’s, Doom, they wonder who he is but don’t wor, -ry, believe me he’ll get busy. When it comes, to, poetry he’s got plenty, la la laa. La la, la la, la la.

Thursday the 17th to Sunday the 20th – “Autumn Almanac” @ Ikon Gallery, Birmingham – A four day affair with local createurs of sundry stripe. Includes a 7 Inch Cinema film selection (themed around the date it’s on, the 17th of November) and Doom-Tuba courtesy of Ore (they were amazing at Supersonic), amongst many other things.

Friday the 18th – The Beat / The Selecter @ The Town Hall, Bimingham – On my radio in the bathroom.

Friday the 18th – Boxing (First Team Promotions) @ The Town Hall, Walsall – Including Martin Gethin’s first local fight in ages.

Friday the 18th – Rihanna @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – And also at the NIA on the 29th. She’ll need a big umbrella indeed if everyone in venues of those sizes are to be invited to stand underneath.

Friday the 18th – The Dwarves @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – Once upon a time The Most Dangerous Band On The Planet, then a polite little pop-punk group, and I don’t actually know what they’re up to nowadays.

Friday the 18th – “The Lonely Clouds Of Guernica” (Come As You Are Arts Northwest) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – A play concerning the fact (and I didn’t know this one, but it seems hardly surprising) that Bush’n’Blair wanted Picasso’s “Guernica” covered up at the UN when they were a-having wars.

<iSaturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th – The Warley National Model Railway Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Choo-choo and indeed chug-a-puff. Is that Warley as in right here in Sandwell? Cool.

Saturday the 19th – The Supreme Show of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Look at this, I mean really now.

Sunday the 20th – Morbid Angel @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Surely the deathliest death metal that ever died metallically.

Tuesday the 22nd till Saturday the 26th – “The Producers” (West Bromwich Operatic Society) @ The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – It’d be good if people dressed up for this in a manner similar to how folk do when they go to see “Rocky Horror”, ‘cos then we’d all have an excuse to carry our blue blankets around with us.

Tuesday the 22nd and Wednesday the 23rd – “A Clockwork Orange” (Volcano Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Apparently “Volcano Theatre Sidestep the cult movie and recapture the shock of the original novella”, which is good because I love the book and have never particularly liked the fillum.

Tuesday the 22nd – Beverley Knight @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Our Bev. There may be higher-energy artists and there may be artists in higher heels, but you won’t find a greater combination of the two.

Wednesday the 23rd and on until 2012 – “The Sleeping Beauty” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – From the perspective of the fairy who cursed Beauty to sleep in the first place.

Wednesday the 23rd until Sunday the 27th – The BBC Winter Good Food Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Incorporating, pleasingly, The World Cheese Awards.

Wednesday the 23rd – Alabama 3 @ The Academy, Birmingham – Actually, Opeth aren’t this months only candidates for “band I used to be into but have drifted away from over the years, for no obvious reason”.

Thursday the 24th till Saturday the 26th – “Hobson’s Choice” (The Luke Players) @ The MAC (Theatre Space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – I always think “Harold Brighouse” sounds like more of name for a gangster than for a playwrite. ‘Ard ‘Arry Brighouse from Landan taaahn.

Saturday the 26th – Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band @ The Cross, Moseley, Birmingham – Oh, Geno.

Saturday the 26th – Dimmu Borgir @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – It’s billed as “An evening with Dimmu Borgir”, and so I do hope they’ll be taking questions and relating humorous anecdotes about their lives. Whilst wearing corpsepaint.

Saturday the 26th – Martin Carthy @ Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton – If it’s a month with a vowel in it then you can be sure that at least one of the Waterson/Carthy family will be playing somewhere in your county.

Sunday the 27th – Deep Purple @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – Plus a full orchestra, ‘cos they’re a bit like that, that Deep Purple.

Tuesday the 29th – Flogging Molly @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Faith and begorrah, you can’t beat a bit of the auld Irish-American punk.

Wednesday the 30th till Saturday the 3rd of December – “Joseph K” (Birmingham School of Acting) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – A modernised version of “The Trial”. I am keen on Kafka, kid.

Wednesday the 30th and on until next year – “The Jungle Book” (Birmingham Stage Company) @ The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Bear necessities and Mother Nature’s recipes.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: September 2011

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 31 August, 2011

There really is a lot this month, with a whole metric heap of interesting events (and the customary Brum tendency to describe most of them as ‘festivals’, whether this is in the least bit sensible or not). I’ll warn you, though – the sheer amount of good stuff means that there will be date clashes, and plenty of them.

Standard disclaimers: I can’t ensure that these events will go ahead, that they’ll be good, or that I will be going to them. This is just a list of things I found that looked like they might be interesting, so please do not contact me to ask for your event to be included. That’s not the way it works.

Already started and ongoing – “Home Of Metal” @ lots of different venues in Birmingham and the Black Country – The big celebration of the fact that Heävy Metäl came from hereabouts continues. A metric bagful of different things are happening so it might be easiest for you to just look at the listings (or the map), but the fun includes Judas Priest stage costumes at Walsall Leather Museum, Bat Walks at Haden Hill, and some actual real metalbashing.

Thursday the 1st till Saturday the 3rd – Debbie Tracey’s “Death Of A Beauty Saleswoman” @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Gaining the world and losing it again in the comedy world of cosmetics.

Friday the 2nd till Sunday the 4th – The Moseley Folk Festival @ Moseley Park, Moseley, Birmingham – Another strong line-up this year, with Billy Bragg, Tinariwen, Pram, Badly Drawn Boy, Gruff Rhys, Michael Chapman, Eliza Carthy and loads of others in beautiful Moseley Park. I’m actually looking forward to this more than that other Brum festival I normally look forward to so much, this year.

Friday the 2nd till Sunday the 4th – Brum Punx Picnic @ outside The Adam & Eve, Digbeth, Birmingham – Involving English Dogs, Eastfield, Rotunda, Poundaflesh and a cider-barrelful more. See also the 9th and 30th for more Digbethy punk (well, actually, there are always punk gigs in Digbeth all the time, just keep your eyes open if you’re interested).

Friday the 2nd – Dolly Parton @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – Fresh from giving out books to the children of Rotherham. No, really.

Friday the 2nd – “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” (Townsend Productions) @ The Library Theatre, Birmingham – I may be the only lefty in the world to consider the book massively over-rated, but this two-hander stage version could nevertheless be of some interest.

Saturday the 3rd/10th/17th/24th – “Project Pigeon” events @ New Art Gallery, Walsall – Over the four Saturdays you have (respectively) a talk, an exhibition, film showings and an auction, all of our feathery friends.

Saturday the 3rd – “The Owl And The Pussycat” (Hiccup Theatre) @ The Library Theatre, Birmingham – Acting, music, puppetry and two entirely endearing creatures. I’d like to see The Monkey And The Capybara staged too.

Sunday the 4th – Jimmy Cliff / Toots And The Maytals @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – I really, really wish this wasn’t at the same time as Moseley Folk. But it is. So there we are.

Sunday the 4th – Ian McKellan @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – Apparently he started his acting life at the Belgrade in Coventry, so here (fifty years on) he’ll be reminiscing and answering questions. Hopefully with “What I do is, I pretend to be them.”

Sunday the 4th – The Rotary Club Country Music Festival @ Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Yes, that’s The Rotary Club Country Music Festival, held at The Botanical Gardens. I think this proves that you can string any possible sequence of nouns together and come up with something that actually does exist in the world.

Sunday the 4th – Handel’s “Dido And Aeneas” @ The Conservatoir, Birmingham – The opera being operated by students from the Conservatoir.

Monday the 5th – Public Enemy @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Doing “Fear Of A Black Planet” all the way through, because apparently now all bands that have been around for more than ten years are legally and morally obliged to do a tour where they perform one of their albums in its entirety. Should be good, though.

Tuesday the 6th until Tuesday the 4th of October – The West Midlands Human Rights Film Festival @ various venues in Birmingham and Wolverhampton – Showing “a range of films that investigate the notion of human rights in the 21st Century as measured against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. Apt, just lately, given that a lot of people seem to have suddenly decided that they want coppers to be allowed to stamp on their heads.

Wednesday the 7th – Daniel Martin Moore @ The Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – If the Moseley Folk Festival wasn’t enough folk for you folks, then here is some more folk (of the American persuasion).

Friday the 9th till Saturday the 22nd of October – “The Importance Of Being Earnest” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – A Handbag etc etc etc. See also the 17th.

Friday the 9th – Varukas @ The Old Wharf, Digbeth, Birmingham – Y’see, I told you – there’s punk in Digbeth, all the time. This might help, now that I think about it.

Saturday the 10th till Saturday the 17th – “Talking Heads” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – The vaunted monologues by Alan “Gordon” Bennett.

Saturday the 10th and Sunday the 11th – Artsfest @ lots of places in Birmingham – It’s the annual free Artsfest and, typically, we’re only a fortnight away and it’s still a bugger to find out what’s actually happening. Guillemots are playing though, apparently, and I’ve no doubt that the CBSO will be doing the big proms-y bit with fireworks.

Saturday the 10th – Mixed Martial Arts (BAMMA) @ The NIA, Birmingham – Headlined by Jim Wallhead vs Frank Trigg and Paul Daley vs Jordan Radev, which is actually quite good when you think about it.

Saturday the 10th – Jazzie B @ The Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Your man there from Soul II Soul. I assume this would be a DJ set, although I can’t find anything that tells me for certain.

Saturday the 10th – “The Boat That Oxjam Brum Rocked” @ starting outside the Canalside Café, Birmingham – A gig for charidee… on a boat! I don’t know who’s playing, but who cares? It’s on a boat. That’s the attraction.

Saturday the 10th – Switchblade @ The Wagon And Horses, Digbeth, Birmingham – The flyer I picked up says “Swedish veteran drone duo from a bleak punk landscape”. You just try and tell me that doesn’t sound enticing, go on, you just try.

Monday the 12th till Friday the 17th – “The Pitmen Painters” (National Theatre) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – I’m surprised that you can actually see the paintings down a mine.

Thursday the 15th – Cosmo Jarvis @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – Your indie-teen version of The Streets. That wasn’t actually meant to sound like an insult.

Friday the 16th – “Showstopper! The Improvised Musical” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Apparently it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Friday the 16th – “Mr Edgar Allan Poe’s Terrifying Tales” (Tin Shed Theatre Company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Poe by candlelight.

Saturday the 17th of September till Saturday the 22nd of October – “Travesties” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – Following on from “The Importance Of Being Earnest”, here we have Tom Stoppard’s “Travesties” at the same place with the same cast.

Saturday the 17th – The Women Chainmakers Festival @ Bearmore Mound Playing Fields, Cradley Heath – In honour of the 1910 Mary MacArthur strikes. Apparently this has been at the Black Country Museum in previous years, but they’ve chosen to stop hosting it because they’ve decided that the union presence there was getting too uppity (sorry, ‘political’). Disgraceful stuff from an institution I normally like a lot.

Saturday the 17th – Pow-Wow Literary Festival @ The Prince Of Wales, Moseley, Birmingham – Talks and speakers all day, about matters literary. There’s also a Capoeira demonstration. For some reason.

Saturday the 17th – “Off The Cuff” (Offstage Theatre Group) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Improvised comedy business with the audience shouting out suggestions etc, but apparently there are free Jaffa Cakes too. That’s every bit the endearing bonus that it’s calculated to be.

Sunday the 18th – Bearwood Shuffle @ Lightwoods Park, Bearwood – We didn’t come here looking for trouble, we just came to do the Bearwood Shuffle. Free live music at the bandstand in the middle of the park, headlined by Aziz.

Sunday the 18th – The Digbeth O’Lympics @ various places in Digbeth, Birmingham – Usually involving snail racing and welly wanging and whiskey drinking and so on.

Sunday the 18th – Gary Numan @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – He really didn’t look very well in the backing videos used on Battles’ last tour, but presumably that was intentional.

Sunday the 18th – Rick Wakeman @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Keyboards and capes.

Tuesday the 20th till Saturday the 24th – “The Jungle Book” (Birmingham Stage Company) @ The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Taking after the Disney one, it looks like, although I expect it won’t have the songs from that. Or will it? I love me some “Bear Necessities”, as all right-thinking folk do.

Tuesday the 20th till Saturday the 24th – “Hobson’s Choice” (All & Sundry Theatre) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Give ‘em the boot.

Wednesday the 21st – Susan Murray’s “Photo Booth” @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Solo comedy show based on 25 years of collecting passport-sized photos of people.

Thursday the 22nd – Sham 69 @ The Robin 2, Bilston – There’s gonna be a Bilston breakout.

Friday the 23rd – Boxing (Dave Coldwell promotions) @ The Tower Ballroom, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Headlined by everyone’s fave Max Maxwell versus one Martin Robins, and also featuring quite a few debuting fighters.

Friday the 23rd – Julian Sands’ “A Celebration Of Harold Pinter” @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – So the story goes that Pinter’s illness left him unlikely to be able to speak at a charity reading, and as such he trained this Sands fella up to take his place. He now continues to read in (as it says on the tin) celebration of the master. Apparently this is also directed by John Malkovich, which is certainly a thing.

Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th – Miniatura International Dolls House Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – I don’t really know anything much about miniature/dolls houses, but I do always think they’re very clever.

Saturday the 24th – The First Bite Theatre festival @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Thirteen short plays/performances (from a variety of local groups) performed in different places throughout the MAC.

Sunday the 25th – Echo And The Bunnymen @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Spare us The Cutter. Well, actually, no – play it, please.

Sunday the 25th – Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – More folk etc etc.

Wednesday the 28th – Martin Simpson @ The Red Lion, King’s Heath, Birmingham – That bloke who’s got that Dad (also: even more folk etc etc etc).

Wednesday the 28th – Josh T. Pearson @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – Yeah man dang ol Texan fella from Lift To Experience solo stuff I tell you hwhat.

Wednesday the 28th – “Macbeth” (Icarus Theatre Company) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – I love “Macbeth”, it’s just so gangsta. This is, apparently, an appropriately violent production of it. But then…

Wednesday the 28th – Guy Masterson’s “Shylock” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – … speaking of Shakespeare in Wolverhampton on the 28th, here you have a one-man show in which Tubal from “The Merchant Of Venice” takes us through the history of anti-semitism.

Thursday the 29th till Sunday the 2nd of October – Harmonic Festival @ mostly at The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Outre jazz craziness. This includes an eleven hour long piano performance and a trumpety quartet influenced by Meshuggah, things I can’t help but approve of.

Friday the 30th – GBH @ The Wagon & Horses, Digbeth, Birmingham – Rity babies attacked by cats.

From wagons and horses to modern-day flyovers

Posted in Modern Living, Music by Russ L on 30 August, 2011

Writing about things that I’ve done! There’s a thing that I could do. Y’know, to alleviate the boredom. That thought occurred to me after the two gigs I went to a couple of weekends ago, and the of course I scrawled some notes and left ‘em for a bit. As ever. At least this isn’t as long as usual, I suppose.

The first was on Friday the 19th at The Wagon & Horses in Digberf, and to my surprise it was actually outside (in their covered-over beer garden/courtyard/thing). I was aware that there were sometimes outside gigs at the DoubleYooAndAitch, but I’d never actually been to one before and I’d assumed that this was would be in the usual upstairs room. It was also apparently in aid of the Ideal Skate Shop, which got hit in the looting. I know nothing about them or their ways, but it’s difficult to imagine that they might have been a deserving target. The gig was fun, I enjoyed it – some sloppy-drunk local-character-types contributed to a bit of hilarity beyond that which the bands provided (it’s always funny till someone gets hurt etc. etc.).

Sadly, that lovely little whippet-y/greyhound-y dog (who I’ve seen at most of the W&H gigs I’ve been to before) wasn’t around. Bless her little heart and her attempts to obtain food from everyone present.

The outdoors-but-with-something-overhead vibe continued on Saturday the 20th, with Soweto Kinch’s annual (although not fixed – there have been four so far, and they’ve taken place in May/June/May/August) Hockley Flyover Show. Under-the-flyover is still the best possible venue for this sort of thing and even beyond that, This Was Important. After all of this recent riot palava it is an unequivocally good thing to show that people of different ages and ethnic backgrounds can spend an afternoon and evening amongst each other without any trouble at all. Most folks will not be surprised by this thought at all, but then again some folks would and they often tend to be the ones with the loudest mouths.

The highlights of the weekend (in terms of actual bands/acts/artistes, and defined in the traditional fashion as being better than “I quite liked ‘em”), then:

Stinky Wizzleteat – It seems that they’re a two piece band nowadays, which I didn’t know beforehand. Great fun – guitar and drums playing jagged bits of thrash riffs over grooving drum patterns.

Drunk In Hell – A total wall of rocking. What they play could loosely be described as noise-rock, but far more importantly they’re horrific yet grooving in a way that reminds me a bit of how Mistress used to be (although sounding different). I had to leave halfway through though, sadly, because of the ever-creeping degree to which Birmingham gigs are for Birmingham people, time-wise.

Julian Joseph – A pianist, who started on his own before being joined by Soweto and then by the rest of the band. The first (solo) piece was absolutely amazing – pulsing menace from the low end, overlaid by acrobatic space travel from the high end.

Soweto himself – Obviously great and salute-able for putting the whole thing on, but his freestyle game (people shout out words starting with every letter of “Flyover”, prior to him coming up a rap about them) was also massive fun.

Baba Israel – The tracks that he’d emailed through beforehand (I wondered how that worked – the house band all seem to know everyone’s songs) apparently didn’t get there. This worked out brilliantly in the long run – we had a great spontaneous feel as he gave out beatboxing for the band to improvise around. He also had fantastically agile vocals, and (oh yes) a didgeridoo. Didge! Didgeridoo hip-hop is definitely something that the world needs to produce more of.

Goldie’s Band – I had no idea about all any of this beforehand, but it seems that Goldie recently had a telly series in which he (assisted by our own Soweto, Ms Dynamite, Cerys Catatonia and others) gathered a bunch of young ‘uns from around the country and made a band out of ‘em. There were only half of them here for this but they were ace nevertheless – awesomely grooving instrumental-jam stuff, markedly different to everything else on the bill. I’d seen Will Pound before (as part of Dan Walsh & Will Pound at last year’s Moseley Folk Festival), and I’m happy to report that his harmonica on the song they called “Turkish Delight” was amazing, combining the bluesyness with hookah-scented ethereality. I may have just made that word up.

Akala – Possibly the best hip-hop set I’ve ever seen, and I’m not joking with that. He started with a long Acapella filled with wisdom (you can see most of it here, but please let me know if you find the whole thing anywhere online) (EDIT: it was Fire In The Booth and you really should listen to it in full), and realistically that was so good it would have been enough on its own. There was more, though, and good it was too: Paul Gladstone Reid joined him on one for piano, the band really hit a funk mark at times, and the righteous fury really shone through during “Yours And My Children”. I have seen Akala before a couple of times before and thought “I’ve got to check him out properly”, but… well, this time I really really really must.

Also: bigup to the fella at The Flyover Show who was wearing a T-shirt with Nye Bevan on the front. That is genuinely righteous.

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